Right up front, there is a play I urge you to go see. It may be one of the best plays you will catch all season. It is that warm, rich, confronting and brilliantly performed.
“Tuesdays With Morrie” at the Gulfshore Playhouse in downtown Naples, is a gem. You may have read the book by Mitch Albom, or seen the not-so-good movie back in 1999. But I guarantee you will be enthralled by the production of “Tuesdays With Morrie” that Kristen Coury, the director and Producing Artistic Director at the Gulfshore Playhouse, has mounted.
It runs only until November 21st, so don’t delay. If you are truly a lover of deeply moving theater act now.
The story is about two people, one of whom is the student of a gifted professor, Dr. Morrie Schwartz, Sociologist, and then some. Two exceptionally gifted actors play them.
Hal Robinson, as Morrie, is superb. No surprise. His credits range from George Abbot’s BROADWAY to a national tour of CABARET, to the successful revival of I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER with Marsha Mason and Keir Dallas. You will have seen him in featured roles in LAW AND ORDER and as Judge Callahan on THE PRACTICE.
He delivers his lines with exquisite drollery, and makes his points with hammer accuracy.
Wayne LeGette, who played last year here in TARTUFFE, and had major roles in two Sondheim musicals at The Caldwell, plays his Mitch as a perfect match to Dr. Schwartz, running right along with the banter that was so delightful and loving between them. We also feel Mitch’s struggles, and hear his totally believable responses out of the mouth of this Type-A guy who has become the big-shot sports writer.
The play opens on the two, much younger. The connection is sweet, even when Schwartz badgers young Mitch Albom about what he is going to do when he graduates. “Do what you love, not what they tell you you should do,” Morrie hammers at him.
Life happens, and for 16 years Mitch Albom makes no effort to see his old professor. And then, the plot thickens. Morrie comes down with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The scene where Mitch comes back for a quick, guilt-ridden visit, is beautifully played. Slowly, out of the chaos of greedy job climbing, he comes to Morrie on successive Tuesdays. And we come to fall in love with both of them, because they make us care. A play that does that, earns my applause.
The play is all about impending death, and what we, the living, are to do with the time we have left, even if Morrie doesn’t have any. What he’s done with his past is the mirror held up to all of us in the audience. You will want to be there. Maybe you need to be there.
Highest kudos go to Kristen Coury who directed these two fine actors in this marvelous play. Her delicate yet profound thumbprint is on so much of what we see on that stage. Ms. Coury knows what she’s doing to make sure the play doesn’t get over sentimental, and doesn’t fall into mush or go over the top. It is razor sharp and the points are enhanced by her marvelous control of physical movements that help tell the story. One of them is watching Morrie trying to get his glasses on, where the muscles won’t lift his hands to where they need to go. I could almost hear Ms. Coury saying. “No, slower, Hal. Stretch it out. It needs to be slower.” Enough, go see her magic in action. She’s got to be one of the best directors in the whole region.
As Morrie says, “Keep an open heart. Treat yourself gently. Be kind to yourself” and I say, “Get tickets fast before this play closes on November 21st.”
Call the box office at 1-866-811-4111. Shows are 8:00 p.m Wednesday through Saturday. There are two matinees, at 3 P.M., one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
Their Website is: WWW.GULFSHOREPLAYHOUSE.ORG
All shows are exclusively at The Norris Center, 755 8th Ave South, Naples, Fl. 34102.